Freeform, Universal, Do-it-yourself Gaming Engine
A Free Role-playing Game (RPG).
Copyright 1992, 1995 by Steffan O'Sullivan
Version: June, 1995

Table of Contents

5 Character Development

After playing a bit, perhaps each session, a player will want the character to grow in abilities. At this point, a developing character can exceed the initial GM-set skill limits (such as one Superb, three Greats). There are two ways to handle character development, or "experience," as it's often called.

5.1 Subjective Character Development

When the player feels the character has accomplished enough to warrant improving in some trait (and he feels he's been roleplaying well), he petitions the GM for permission to raise it. A trait can only be raised one level at a time. A trait must be used more to raise it from Good to Great than Fair to Good, and so on. It should be easier to raise a Skill than an attribute.

Or the GM can simply award an improvement in a trait she feels deserves to be raised. In these cases, there is never a corresponding reduction of another trait - this is character development, not creation.

5.2 Objective Character Development

In the Objective Character Development system, the GM can award experience points (EP), which the player can trade in any way he wants at the following rates:
Raising a skill from:To: Costs:
Terrible Poor 1 EP
Poor Mediocre 1 EP
Mediocre Fair 1 EP
Fair Good 2 EP
Good Great 4 EP
Great Superb 8 EP
Superb Legendary 16 EP + GM permission
Legendary Legendary 2nd 30 EP + GM permission
Each additional level of Legendary: 50 EP + GM permission

A trait can only be raised one level at a time.

The GM may adjust these point levels as she sees fit and should require that the player may only raise traits that were used significantly during an adventure. If a long campaign is planned, these EP costs could be doubled to allow room for character growth. Defining skills narrowly will also ensure characters don't become too powerful too quickly.

As a guideline, good roleplaying should be rewarded with one to three EP per gaming session, with an upper suggested limit of four EP for flawless roleplaying. Players may save EP as long as they wish.

Attribute levels may or may not affect EPs put into skills. For simplicity, you can ignore attribute levels entirely when raising skill levels. For greater realism, however, the GM can add a surcharge of +2 EP (or more) when a skill is raised above an appropriate attribute.

This proposal is recommended only for character development - not for character creation. The GM should inform the players at character creation if this option is in force so they can plan their characters' attributes accordingly.

5.3 Development Through Training

Improving skills through EP is not always realistic, to be honest. A gaming session might only cover a few hours of campaign time. Allowing a character to improve one or two different skills from Fair to Good in that time is far-fetched. But it's fun for the players, and psychologically satisfying, and so recommended.

As an alternative, or in addition to the methods described above, the GM may allow traits to be raised through appropriate amounts of training time. This would require finding a teacher (which would cost money) or taking an appropriate job (which may not be totally dedicated the skill you wish to learn, and so take longer). It's also possible to learn something on your own, but the GM should double the time required. If using the Objective Character Development system, the GM may (or may not) require that EPs be spent in this manner - that is, you can't spend EPs unless you also take the time to train.

The GM sets training time and costs, and difficulty of finding a teacher. The teacher has two skills that must be considered: Teaching skill, and the appropriate skill being taught. The player may need to roll the dice to see how diligently the character studied the skill. The die roll should be on an attribute such as Willpower, Drive, Zeal, Wisdom, Self Discipline, Self Motivation, Psyche, Intelligence, etc. If the player can give a valid reason why the character is extremely motivated to learn this skill, the GM may grant up to +2 to the trait tested. The GM may request a single die roll, or a roll per week, month, etc. If multiple rolls are called for, at least half of them should succeed to earn the skill improvement.

Remember that it is much easier to improve a skill from Poor to Mediocre than from Great to Superb. Require more time, or higher Difficulty Levels on the Will rolls to raise an already high skill.

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